I don’t know what I’m doing here. I was home, and the doorbell rang, and I answered the door because that’s the kind of man I am—conscientious. A couple of men in suits were there and they took me by the arm and put me into a car and brought me here. I don’t remember closing the front door. There is a chap giving a speech about how much I deserve the award I am about to receive, but I don’t know what it is I’ve done exactly. I remember working hard most of my life and some of the details I don’t remember (there was a factory or two, I think) but I don’t know what all the work was for. Then there are other people giving speeches about how much I deserve the award I am about to receive. I can’t keep track of them all, but there’s a young lady in a very small bikini, an Eskimo in furs, a university professor in rather fetching golden latex, someone who I think must be dead because they wheeled in a coffin, and a whole lot of other people it will be easy to forget. Then I’m escorted up on to the stage and they give me my award, which I take home and put on the sideboard. It’s in a nice little frame, the kind you can get in town for a couple of quid. I don’t think I deserve it, and I still don’t know what it’s for, but it’s not every day you get an award, and I wasn’t going to turn it down.
I knew I had to look my best at the awards ceremony in case I won something. To be honest, I had heard on the grapevine that it was likely to be my night, but I was taking nothing for granted, although let’s face it, it would be about time I was recognized for my work, and for my achievements over the years and years, the fucking endless years, which I would list here if I was more of the boasting kind of a chap but I’m modest to a fault, or so they tell me, and I have also been called “diffident”, which means almost the same thing but not really. So anyway, I had my suit cleaned—I have just the one, I don’t wear it very often—and with clean underwear, a fresh shirt, and my old office shoes brushed up to almost a shine, I think I looked pretty good. My hair takes care of itself, and a few days growth of beard is a look that goes down okay, mostly. The ceremony went on for a little bit too long, to my mind, because some of the speeches were kind of rambling and not very interesting. I saw a few people I know, some of whom were awarded awards, but I didn’t wait around once it was all over, because I didn’t want to miss the last bus or have to talk to anyone who had won an award, although I am very happy for them. I am sure they were deserved.
It’s not just anybody can go to an awards ceremony, you have to belong to the organisation or club that’s giving the awards, or be their special guest, or you have to be from the people who are maybe paying for the awards with their money like a company or something because it’s never going to be a person using their own money, it’s going to be a company using other people’s money like a pension fund or something, or you have to be one of the people who might be getting an award in which case you will go to the ceremony hoping you come away with an award and that it’s a lot of money, and of course you can be the wife or husband or girl or boyfriend or hanger on of one of those people, so you can see why not just anybody can go to the awards ceremony because there’s already loads of other people going and there will only be a certain number of chairs and if there is catering then they will also need to know how many sausage rolls to make and how many bottles of splosh to get etc. and so you can’t just turn up, which makes sense, and actually awards ceremonies are usually quite boring things like the first one I went to, it was just mainly speeches and more speeches and the only bit of anything approaching excitement was when one of the people who was with I think a not very good poet who nevertheless had won loads of money had too much to drink probably and started trying some non-consensual sexual contact with a waitress but me and one of the other waiters dragged him out of the hall on his back and the boss gave us each an extra fiver in wages for being on the ball.
Illustration: Claire Palmer